In today’s bite-sized bulletin of watch news: Biver bows out, Baume & Mercier’s Baumatic, IWC’s new flight, design from Rado and a Fears pop-up
By Chris Hall
Business news: Jean-Claude Biver steps back
It’s the beginning of the end of an era: the talismanic Jean-Claude Biver, head of LVMH’s watchmaking division and all-round force of nature, has announced that he is taking a back seat at the company at the age of 69. The former marketing executive was responsible for the re-birth of Blancpain in the 1980s, the revitalisation of Omega in the 1990s and for creating the phenomenon that is Hublot in the 2000s.
Recently focussed on TAG Heuer and Zenith, he will remain non-executive chairman of LVMH’s watchmaking division. Stephane Bianchi, formerly CEO of Yves Rocher, will step in as CEO at TAG Heuer, with Ricardo Guadaloupe at Hublot and Julien Tornare at Zenith reporting to him. According to Reuters, “serious health problems” have played a role in Mr Biver’s decision to step down.
What we’re wearing: Baume & Mercier Baumatic
It’s been a business-like couple of weeks for our wristwear, which continues with the eminently sensible Baumatic (not to be confused with the equally practical brand of household white goods). Launched in January, this is B&M’s big pitch for 2018 – a wholly new movement, developed by Richemont for the brand’s exclusive use (for now, at least) that aims to bring the basic spec into the 21st century.
So you get a five-day power reserve, antimagnetic resistance to 1,500 Gauss, a silicon escapement and TwinSpir balance wheel… basically a much more efficient and modern movement, all for not-silly money. The chronometer-certified version (which gets a Geophysic-esque crosshair design on the dial) is the priciest, at £2,500, but Baume & Mercier revealed to us that every Baumatic calibre is regulated to COSC levels of accuracy, so you can save the £200 if you’re not fussed about the word “chronometer” on the dial.
Something to put in the diary: IWC’s Silver Spitfire
Getting the news out nice and early, IWC has announced that next August it will be sponsoring a restored Spitfire as it embarks on a round-the-world flight. Landing in 30 countries over a period of several months, and clocking up over 26,700 miles, the plane will be flown by Matt Jones and Steve Boultbee-Brooks, of the Boultbee flying school in Goodwood, Sussex, which bills itself as the world’s first Spitfire training school. The plane is currently being stripped-down and restored, gaining a chrome silver finish along the way. Its journey will commence with a transatlantic flight, before progressing through the Americas, and round the world via South-East Asia and the Middle East. Doubtless when the time comes, there will also be an IWC Pilots’ Watch to match.
Something to visit: Fears to open Six Week Store
British watch brand Fears – once a Bristol-based family business, now re-born under Nicholas Bowman-Scargill, the sixth-generation descendant of founder Edwin Fear – is to open a pop-up store in London’s Piccadilly Arcade.
As well as the Redcliff and Brunswick watches that make the brand’s modern catalogue, the store will have on display a range of historical pieces and material from its glory days. As the name implies, the shop will be open for six weeks, starting on Tuesday September 25th.
Something to try: Rado’s star-studded design
Last week saw the award of the Rado Star Prize 2018, an award given by the watch brand to a young promising designer. This year’s winner was David Knowles, for his coffee table inspired by the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland. At the same time, the watch brand was able to show us its latest design partnership, the Rado True Thinline Studs. Produced with creative input from furniture designer Bethan Gray, it has a metal marquetry-style dial and Bethan’s hallmark brass studs on the black leather strap. Ostensibly a women’s watch, it was getting a lot of attention from the men in the room.